Sunday, January 26, 2014

Centenary of Sri Aurobindo's The Life Divine

Tusar Nath Mohapatra on 25 January 2014 at 7:01 am said:
Demarcation between philosophy proper and history of Indian philosophy has been deep since the arrival of Sri Aurobindo in the scene. This year marks the Centenary of his magnum opus “The Life Divine” and other original works like “The Secret of the Veda.” The Evolutionary dialectic of his Integral Ontology seeks to establish a universal template of philosophy that acts as applied psychology as well by suitably incorporating poetic aesthesis. So, not to include him in the list would be an injustice to the future of human civilization and education. [TNM55]

Tusar Nath Mohapatra on 26 January 2014 at 6:16 am said:
Bringing in other names while thinking of Sri Aurobindo is a real problem; so is the period during which he wrote. Most of his books, fortunately, allow us to concentrate on the subject proper and a slim volume like “The Problem of Rebirth” or “Heraclitus” can introduce one elegantly to his philosophical project that dovetails into poetry too.
Though neither germane nor palatable, let me say as a nonspecialist here that it is Sri Aurobindo who has saved the modern day Indians from the tyranny of “Indian Philosophy” by offering an alternative set of literature in English reading which is transformative as well. [TNM55]

Matthew Dasti on 25 January 2014 at 2:37 pm said:
I like how you framed this, Jonathan. In an undergraduate education with some focus on Indian philosophy, there’s only so much time. Given this, I would say you did a pretty good job. I am an Aurobindo fan, but imho, you can be considered literate, on an undergraduate level, in Indian philosophy without ever having read him (or others in his broad category), but not if you haven’t read Nagarjuna, Vatsyayana, or Dignaga, etc.
I would also suggest one more criterion: if a certain school or tradition is deeply important, then one of it’s most important thinkers should be included, to allow for an appropriately wide coverage. On that score, is anybody missing?
Also, you mentioned Vacaspati Mishra, but we don’t read him merely as Vacaspati, but as a commentator on various texts. Which ones were you thinking of? Reply ↓

Amod Lele on 25 January 2014 at 4:07 pm said:
I think lists like this are a marvelous exercise, and I thank Jonathan for posting it. Having said that, I have a lot of problems with the list in its details.
My biggest concern with the list is the relative absence of ethics, especially Buddhist ethics. I think Candrakīrti and Śāntideva need a place here. Which I suppose ties to a related point: that the “enduring impact” of Indian philosophers shouldn’t be judged only on their influence in India, but outside its borders as well. That can mean Tibet, China, Southeast Asia in the premodern period… and it’s another reason to include the likes of Aurobindo in the modern. (Śāntideva never amounted to much in India proper, but he’s among the most important of all philosophers in Tibet.)

Jonathan Edelmann on 25 January 2014 at 7:22 pm said: Hello All, 
Thanks for this interesting and thought-provoking dialogue! Let me first respond to a few points:
1. My knowledge of Jain philosophers is woefully scant, so I appreciate Patrick’s suggestions. My list was only meant to generate discussion. It was partial and surely needs refining. I also appreciate the other names mentioned.
2. I do think there is a rationale for including philosophers like Sri Aurobindo. One might also mention Vivekananda, Ramakrishnan, and Matilal as well. Again, my list was partial. That also brings up another interesting question, however. Does one need to be Indian to be an Indian philosopher? Gerry Larson, for example, has recently published an article ...